Democrats Roll the Dice One Last Time on Mueller

Robert Mueller would rather not be appearing on Capitol Hill today. But Democrats want to hear from the former special counsel, who stated at a press conference in May that he'd prefer let his 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election speak for itself. So the former FBI director will appear before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees to answer lawmakers' questions about the Russia affair, and his investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in relation to the probe.

It's a risky gambit for the Democrats who, as the 2020 election approaches, are suffering an internal schism between progressives who want to rally the base and moderates who prefer to seek the support of swing voters. For Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats, the public response to today's hearings will be an important barometer of how hard to push impeachment – or the Russia affair more broadly – as a campaign issue in the run-up to next November.

On the one hand, they may get Mueller to say, or restate in a TV-friendly way, something politically damaging about the Trump campaign's interactions with Russians who were tied to Moscow's (well-documented) efforts to mess with the election, or about the president's actions related to the subsequent investigation.

But if Democrats come across as frustrated by Mueller, who is unlikely to go along with attempts to bait him into denouncing Trump, their gambit could backfire. They'll just look desperate.

The fact is that most Americans already know how they feel about Trump and the lines are bitterly partisan. A recent Reuters Ipsos poll found that just 18 percent of Republican respondents planned to tune in to today's hearings. Many other voters will encounter them only through soundbites and memes filtered by partisan news outlets or social media. It's not an environment that's conducive to debating the finer legal points of what constitutes an obstruction of justice by a sitting president.

We'll have a better sense of whether today's political theater moved the needle either way when the first post-hearing polls are published.

Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.

Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.

Foreign policy played a bigger role in last night's Democratic presidential debate than in previous ones, in part because of events that came on the heels of President Trump's surprise, and disastrous, withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria. Some candidates used the opportunity to play up their foreign policy bona fides, but not all of their punches landed cleanly. Here are some key takeaways.

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Will there be agreement, and will negotiations carry on if there is no agreement in the EU?

Lord William Hague: Well, they won't carry on if there is no agreement at the European Council in the next few days. But in the EU, while you always think of things going to the last minute, in fact they usually go beyond the last minute. And that could happen in this case where there could be political agreement, agreement in principle to a Brexit deal. But they'd have to have another European Council, and more detail hammering out the actual text of it before another summit on the 28th of October, which would mean some extension to Brexit.

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Since Syria's brutal civil war began eight years ago, millions of Syrians have fled their country to escape the bombs and bullets. But hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Syria's borders, where they languish in packed refugee camps. The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is sprawling, and of its nearly 70,000 residents, some 11,000 are family members of foreign ISIS fighters, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The surprise American withdrawal from northern Syria last week paved the way for Turkey and Syria's Bashar al-Assad to move in. Some 160,000 civilians have now fled the border region that Turkey is bombarding, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a stretch of Syria that had been relatively secure since the defeat of ISIS's self-declared caliphate back in March. Here's a look at the camps for displaced people in the area.

Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.

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